THE Battle of Hastings is one of the most famous conflicts in British history, and led to a change in the Monarchy.
Here, we take a look at what happened during the battle in 1066.
The dramatic event in many ways marked the creation of the England and Britain we know today, with our Queen able to trace her lineage back to William the Conqueror.
But what sparked the battle, how did William the Conqueror win and why were the Normans and Anglo-Saxons fighting in the first place?
When was the Battle of Hastings?
The world famous clash occurred on October 14, 1066 when the invading Norman army from France attacked the Anglo-Saxon forces that had ruled England for centuries.
The rival forces came together just seven miles northwest of the coastal town of Hastings near to the modern day town of Battle, in East Sussex.
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King Harold Godwinson of Wessex (Harold II) had taken the English throne after Edward the Confessor died leaving no children.
William, Duke of Normandy, also known as William the Bastard, also claimed the crown and landed at Pevensey in Sussex on September 28.
Sixteen days later the opposing armies would fight for the English crown in a battle that would change the course of history.
Around 6,000 men are thought to have lost their lives in the battle.
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Who was William the Conqueror?
William the Conqueror was the first Norman king of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087.
William invaded England in 1066, leading an army of Normans to victory over the Anglo-Saxon forces of Harold II at the Battle of Hastings, and suppressed subsequent English revolts in what has become known as the Norman Conquest.
William's claim to the English throne was based on his assertion that, in 1051, Edward the Confessor had promised him the throne, being a distant cousin of his, and that Harold II – having sworn in 1064 to uphold William's right to succeed to that throne-was a usurper.
How did William the Conqueror win?
William had a decisive victory at Hastings, with Harold famously being slain by an arrow through the eye.
But other forgotten factors also contributed to the success of the Norman Duke at the battle.
For starters, Harold and the Anglo Saxons had spent the preceding weeks fending off Harald Hardrada in the north of England.
Harald, King of Norway, also claimed the English throne following the death of Edward the Confessor and banded together with Harold's treacherous brother Tostig Godwinson to take the crown.
The "Last of the Vikings" as he became known, invaded the Yorkshire and clashed with the English King at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on September 25 1066 in a Battle that left 11,000 dead.
The Norwegian king and the traitor Tostig were slain in the battle but the English forces suffered significant losses and also faced a long march south after the fight.
Less than three weeks later Harold faced the powerful and fresh Norman army and their superior cavalry and archers proved too much for the infantry focused Anglo Saxon army to cope with.
Why were the Normans and Anglo-Saxons fighting?
The invasion was sparked when King Edward "the Confessor" – a distant cousin of William of Normandy – died in January 1066.
William claimed he had been promised the job so when he heard a man named Harold Godwinson had been crowned king he immediately challenged the appointment.
He also had rivals in King Harold's own exiled brother Tostig and the Norwegian King Harald Hardrada – both were later defeated in separate battles.
William began gathering his troops and at the end of September 1066, sailed across the English channel with his large army.
When King Harold II heard of the Norman invasion he began marching his men down to Sussex before battle ensued at about 9am on Saturday, October 14, 1066.
What happened afterwards?
William the Conqueror, as his name suggests, won the battle decisively and went on to re-model England to the way he saw fit.
The Norman aristocracy would replace the Anglo Saxon lords that had run England for hundreds of years and reshaped everything down to the language.
Norman French replaced old English as the language of the Kings Court and to this day words in our language come directly as a result of the victory.
For example is for this reason cows are known as cows in the field but their meat is know as beef from the French boef.
French had such a hold on the English monarch that to this day the sovereign's motto on the royal crest is also written in French as: "Dieu et mon droit" meaning "God and my right", although this was adopted some time later.
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